Nick Cohen

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which
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All right-thinking people regard David Abraham, the chief executive of Channel 4, as being morally superior to Dawn Neesom, the editor of the Daily Star.

By modern standards, Channel 4 is a great liberal institution. Its dramas, when it can afford to make them, are edgy and transgressive. Its journalists make no effort to hide their leftish biases. Indeed, they appear so confident that only the corrupt or the wicked could disagree with them that I doubt that they regard their biases as biases at all – simply the attitudes any serious person must possess.

The Daily Star by contrast is sub-literate rag for onanistic underclass men that mixes soft pornography with hard right politics.

Neesom and Abraham move in separate worlds. In the unlikely event of their ever meeting, they would think that they had nothing in common.

I can imagine the look of disdain on Channel 4 employees’ faces when they read the open letter the white anti-fascist campaigners at Hope not Hate sent to Neesom last week:

'We have gone through back copies of the Daily Star since Dawn Neesom became editor in 2003 and found hundreds of articles that portray Muslims in a negative way and very few where they have been portrayed positively. Many of these articles over-exaggerate the importance of tiny Muslim extremist groups while ignoring more mainstream Muslim opinion and use the words of these extremists to smear an entire faith. On other occasions they print inaccurate or slanted articles that whip up fear and mistrust.'

Fear, mistrust, racism, Islamophobia – these are the prejudices liberals expect the gutter press to whip up and profit from.

Except that it is not just the gutter press that does it.

Within days of Hope not Hate writing to Neesom, the Muslim liberals at the Quillam Foundation wrote to Abraham. They complained that Channel 4 had in rapid succession handed over two-minute “ slot,” in which the speaker is allowed to address the viewer directly, to a functionary of Press TV, the propaganda station of the Iranian dictatorship, and two Islamists who have been associated with al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK.

Quillam said that Channel 4 allowed:

'[T]hese individuals to broadcast their messages across the UK without their views being challenged or without their agendas put into their proper context…[It gave] the impression that they represent mainstream Muslim opinion – without explaining how fringe and unrepresentative their extreme views are.'

The Daily Star seeks to exploit its reader’s fears while Channel 4 seeks to exploit its viewers’ fantasies. Its executives are leading the fashion for reactionary chic, currently sweeping the pseudo-left intelligentsia. They will indulge religious bigots, if and only if the bigots are anti-western.

The motives of Neesom and Abrahams are different. But the story they tell is the same.

Written byNick Cohen

Nick Cohen is a columnist for the Observer and author of What's Left and You Can't Read This Book.

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